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POLITICO reports:

Last year, USDA doled out $2 million to four regional projects that span the country. Now, project leaders are exploring best ways to help farmers in need, whether through hotlines and resource directories, as well as financial and legal consulting.

The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network will grow later this year, thanks to $10 million in appropriated funds from the fiscal 2020 spending law. The program is modeled after AgriWellness, a Midwest organization founded by agriculture worker behavior expert Mike Rosmann.

Natalie Roy, executive director of AgriSafe Network, a grant recipient, said regions should "push the envelope" and vet new ways to provide assistance, such as exploring telemedicine tailored specifically to agricultural workers. "It's up to regions to think of innovative services to fill those gaps," she said.

Farmers and farm workers have some of the highest rates of suicide of any occupation. And providers are worried that the ongoing mental health crisis could worsen as the industry continues to deal with weak finances, heightened trade tensions and devastating weather.

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